The government made huge claims about helping more young people get educated and find work when it announced its JobMaker plan — but many young Aussies just aren’t buying it.
So far, most of the official details are just hollow platitudes without any real substance, but we do know JobMaker will completely change the way TAFE is funded without actually increasing the budget.
Currently, the federal government gives $1.5 billion each year to the states for education and training, without much say on how it’s spent.
Now, Scott Morrison has announced he’d like businesses and the federal government to have more say in how the states fund TAFE, so that courses are linked with skills which are supposedly in demand.
However, it’s a huge missed opportunity to fund free education and wipe student debt, Bella Himmelreich from economic justice group YOUNG Campaigns told PEDESTRIAN.TV
“We’ve seen very easily that this government can make decisions that make millions of people’s lives easier, and they could be continuing that trend but instead they’re going back to austerity.”
Unlike the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments, which have kept millions of Aussies afloat but are due to be halted later this year, Himmelreich says JobMaker is continuation of the government’s agenda to privatise education.
“What we’re seeing is a conservative government who’ve done what they needed to to keep the economy running, but now they’re just introducing the usual wish list of big business,” she said.
The government has already trialled the changes in three quite telling sectors: human services, digital technologies and mining. But critics say it’s less about helping young people find work, and more about helping businesses in these industries find cheap labour.
JobMaker’s changes to industrial relations will also disproportionately affect young people just starting their careers.
The government said it wants to streamline mediation between employers and unions, but many predict this will erode unions’ bargaining power.
“This period in people’s lives is really going to determine what their career looks life for the rest of their life,” Himmelreich said.
“What the industrial relations changes are going to do is basically scrap any chance for young people to get into secure, unionised jobs where they can do meaningful work that actually contributes to the community.
None of this is necessarily an oversight by the government. In fact, Himmelreich reckons this is by design.
“The conservative government knows that by keeping wages low and competition high, they’re going to have incredibly high demand for pretty crappy jobs,” she said.
Apparently, fixing the economy doesn’t necessarily mean helping people in the way we’d hoped.
Image: AAP / Lukas Coch & April Fonti